Monday, July 09, 2007
Lazing in Oz
Photos: Sophie in her stroller, ready to roll in Hangzhou; family gathering at the Full Moon Thai restaurant; grand-daughter Leia & daughter-in-law Becky
My apologies to anyone who has tuned into this blog recently only to find me 'asleep at the wheel'. I have returned to Australia, travelled via Hangzhou and Hong Kong, to land in Perth almost two weeks ago now. First thing I did was fall desperately ill with food poisoning, and then spent days catching up with family and friends, before picking my wife Jeanette up from the airport a couple of days ago. She is down for the holidays from her Gibb River school (Wanalirri Catholic School). We are now camping at a friend's house, and this evening move next door to housesit until 18 July when we both return to Gibb River.
The impact of returning to blue skies, clean air, a gigantic variety of flowers, sane yet fast traffic, and English language (with multi-cultural accents) is enormous. In Linfen, I was truly suffering sensory deprivation on a serious scale. The saddest thing about leaving Linfen was leaving my young Chinese friends - ones who I will probably never meet again in this lifetime. Sadder than sad. I have not cried at many separations in my life but their sweetness and sincerity simply tripped me up emotionally.
And then at Hangzhou airport to be greeted by little Sophie waving through a glass panel and kissing the glass was very moving. Tania, Jeff, Sophie and I had a couple of fun days in that beautiful city. The air was clean and the humidity was high but relieved often by gentle showers. The great tourist attraction West Lake was surrounded by amazing gardens - and good coffee stops >g< I once again started my caffeine addiction as we walked from garden to garden.
When I did leave there and spend the inevitable hours in Hong Kong airport, I was pleased to get on my laptop and email friends and family with the airports wonderful wireless connection.
When I flew Qantas to Perth, I had an amiable companion next to me: Said from Malaysia who now lives in Perth and works in the IT field. We talked for half the journey, slept and watched the usual crap for the rest of the time. My luggage, including an outsize scroll box, was spread over various overhead lockers, so much so that when we landed I had to wait for most of the passengers to diembark before collecting my goods, balancing arms full of items and struggling to the luggage reclamation area. The Customs officers didn't take my word for it and examined my scrolls carefully for dangerous wood products. All was cleared and through I went to be greeted by all three of my children and my two Aussie grandkids! So, I became emotional again, before walking out into brilliant blue skies and clean West Australian air. Beautiful!
But something along the track didn't agree with me and I had a severe gastro bout for 36 hours or so. It started halfway through that morning, which meant our family welcome home dinner had to be cancelled and delayed until Saturday evening, a double celebration with my young son Charlie's 28th birthday.
I also enjoyed a WOW (Walking On Water) reading on the first Monday night in July. Murray Jennings and Jane Cornes had helped me organise a Chinese musician - Mr Chen on erhu - and Michelle Druart was the other invited reader. The weather was foul - stormy winds, pelting rain, etc. Yet a couple of dozen friends and poetry-addicts braved the elements to hear us read: Kay Cairns, Jenny and Brian de Garis, Glen Phillips, Trisha Kotai-Ewers, Dennis Haskell, Janet Jackson ... and others. I apologise if I have left your name off the list! Let it be known that I didn't go overtime and kept my intros to manageable length >g< China has bred a new humility in me.
Enough rambling. Except to say I have bought a handfull of books - mainly poetry. You have no idea how I missed bookshops! Since my return, I have been in the Lane Bookshop, the new Planet Bookshop in Mt Lawley, and the Co-op Bookshop at UWA, plus their secondhand bookshop. I believe there is a Borders bookshop in town now, and down in Freo the New Edition bookshop has changed hands and address. So much to see and do ...
The biggest news on my return was the re-branding of FACP as Fremantle Press. Goodonya, Ray Coffey and Clive Newman. You've been away from the asylum for some years now ... The new image also heralds a wider marketing aim for the press - more as a General Publisher than a Literary Publisher. We will see how that shows itself in coming months, but all Australian writers and readers would only wish Freo Press well. It has been a tasteful and vibrant press for many decades in this fast growing town, so we all wish them well for the future.
I will address the new books I have bought tomorrow.